In his second budget as county manager, David Ellis proposed a 6.36-cent tax increase that would send $36.5 million in additional spending for operations of the Wake County Public School System.
That’s about $12 million shy of the $48.9 million increase WCPSS Superintendent Cathy Moore’s budget indicated was necessary for next school year.
During the presentation Ellis made to the Board of Commissioners, he highlighted the key drivers pushing the need to increase revenue to be unfunded state mandates, new state regulations, and population growth. In addition to these drivers, there are also local needs to respond to rising demand and to achieve goals set by the commissioners.
The proposed tax increase is split between paying for three bonds approved by the voters in November 2018 and to pay for operations next year. Ellis said that 3.8 cents of the increase will pay for the capital outlay for bonds for WCPSS school construction, Wake Tech improvements, and for parks, open space, and recreation.
In addition to those capital costs, an additional 2.56 cents per $100 of property valuation will fund operations. From that 1.39 cents will go to WCPSS, and 1.17 cents will fund county operations. This is estimated to cost property owners an additional $64 per $100,000 of valuation, so a $300,000 home would see a $192 annual increase in taxes, which is $16 per month.
Part of the increase in county operations will help fund additional investment in affordable housing, opening three new libraries, and providing Sunday hours for all Wake County Public Libraries. Ellis also proposed a bold move to eliminate all late fines for borrowers and to forgive all outstanding library fines because fines don’t generate lot of revenue and fines may be a barrier to members of the community using public libraries.
The Wake County School Board is expected to approve the superintendent’s proposed budget with some minor changes at tomorrow’s school board meeting. The county commissioners will have two public hearings on its budget on Monday, May 20, and will vote to adopt its budget on June 3.